At our motel in Antigo, the manager was impressed with our quest and wanted us to take additional fruit with us for our journey southward. However, Stacey first had to buy a new pair of running shoes from Dunham's Sporting Goods store. Her last pair had developed holes in the thin meshing perhaps from all of the mud we had been walking through. On our way through the heart of Antigo, people would stop to ask us questions about our trek. One farmer on our road walk said they would be planting corn seed this weekend. He said we had ourselves a job with him if we ever made our way back into the region.
Three turkeys quickly crossed the road as we passed through a white tail deer farm. Our newest birds to greet us were the catbird and the eastern kingbird. We have seen and appreciated many old brick building school houses built earlier last century that have been converted into private residences. The Plover River Segment of the Ice Age Trail was fantastic. The ground cover was lush with ferns, meadow rue, ramps, a purple colored phlox, trilliums, and a new one called nodding trillium. The Jack in the Pulpit with its pitcher like appearance, seems like a great design to catch some water. Extensive fancy and curved boardwalks bridged wet bogs making a stroll through the woods feel simply magical.
From the conifer wooded beginnings of the Plover River, we soon passed freely into frosty Grassy meadows where two sandhill cranes flushed into the sky to find safety closer to the rising morning sun. On the road walk to the Eau Claire River, tree swallows flew into and out of nest boxes while a brown headed cowbird attempted a mating display between another male and a female.
The Eau Claire River and it's country Park was indeed a highlight of the journey where water gushed and poured through exquisite polished rock. A groundhog cautiously checked us for shadow play in the case we placed a sleeping spell upon it. At a trailhead, a chef pulled in with a friend to go ramp hunting to use in his cooking for an up scale restaurant. Making our way through cross country ski trails we made it to the mountain to bay trail. To our surprise, this trail goes about 70 miles into Greenbay, while it will take us another 600 miles to make it fully across the state of Wisconsin.
Approaching Hatley, where we enjoyed a subway sandwich, we met up with Ruth riding her bicycle back to her vehicle. Ruth amazingly will be done hiking the entire Ice Age Trail by Monday after having spent three years exploring her home state in sections. It turns out that she is also a trail angel, and will host us at her home when we come through her neck of the ancient ice fields. At camp tonight, a deer snorted continuously at us as if it were in shock that it could not follow fluently it's normal habitual rounds. It being Friday night and the beginning of the Memorial Day weekend, some of the locals were blowing off fireworks high in the sky.
The next morning we arrived at the well created Mission Lake County Park where fishermen were launching their boats to cast their lines. Who knows what one may catch when one clears their minds which opens the gates to one's inner nature. Goldfinches kept us company on our road walk while barn swallows lived up to their names by returning to a red barn with the insects they were catching. A baby ground squirrel allowed us to approach it to within a few feet showing that trust is born from innocence. In some corn fields, the seeds or kernels have already sprouted and the corn stalks are up to an inch tall.
In Rosholt, the storekeepers treated us well before we stepped into the New Hope segment. Ironically, hundreds of rounds of ammunition were being fired from three separate areas near the trail. I am beginning to think it must be the Fourth of July. A cute little bunny with the tiniest of ears however brought back memories of Easter. But it was the beholding of the scarlet tanager that returned joy into our hearts.
It was forecasted to rain the next few days, so we contacted Gail in Wausau who graciously picked us up so that we could rest up and wash our clothes for a change. The bobolinks and the green heron we saw this morning are surely repelling water at this moment.